Over the years, I became weary of spats and arguments. No church is exempt from them, and no single person within those spats is perfect. However, I have grown to accept this, and try my best to get along with everyone to the best of my ability. I have not achieved this, simply because I am human. Some people just know how to rock your boat or twist your melon, some make an art out of it.
I have beside me here on my desk a DVD that I’m about to lend to a good friend who has become disillusioned with church. It’s a great preacher whose closing address at the Elim Bible Week was about the church and how it is just the only way we are ordained to have fellowship and worship together. One great illustration he made was from Noah’s Ark, which is a good ‘type’ of the church and of Jesus. We can be sure, with all those animals on the ark for 40 days (more than that since it took time for the waters to subside), that it was a stink! Well, at the time, it was ‘stink or sink’, and you know what, the church is the same; it stinks! Because it’s made up of you and me! And we are not perfect. Voilà!
I’ve said this before: we have a condition in this country which has arisen out of the success of the Christian church, in that we are able to decide to move to another church as and when we see fit, and for some this is an ongoing “I don’t agree with that, I’m off!” attitude. Now sometimes such moves are necessary, if there is something particularly rank (biblically or in church conduct) that you find impossible to reconcile, or if you are sure of a ‘call’ from God to move to a different church.
[Discerning the ‘call’ of God is another topic entirely, which I shall avoid for now (and maybe forever!)]
Someone who has constantly moved around churches like a vagabond has issues they need to deal with! I shall venture that their underlying problem is one of maturity, and this is what I have seen so often, and it is this that frustrates the hell out of me! Faults, differing opinions, disagreements, etc. are a part of life, both in and outside the church: dealing with them requires a mature attitude. Regardless of whatever happens, how each one of us deal with or react to such things is down to each one of us!
One of the prime causes of disagreements is change in a church, and it’s all to do with ‘comfort zones’ since none of us like to change from what is comfortable to us (or even just familiar, whether good or bad – a well-documented psychological phenomenon). Comfort zones are for babies! Once we get out of our cot, leave our mother’s breast milk behind and start trying to walk, we may fall down occasionally and bruise our knees and our heads, but we quickly learn that this is the way forward. It’s life.
A friend of mine knows a church historian who reassures him that when our predecessors were trying to introduce church organs, they were met with resistance and hostility! Try now to remove the organ from some churches, just for a laugh!
The person who is unwilling to accept change is being immature. Likewise, the person who thinks that change should just happen and nobody should raise concerns is being immature. There may well be genuine points to an argument against a change, but without a mature discussion of it, and a mature acceptance of other points of view – we all need a little bit of Romans 14 – we get nowhere. Acceptance is a key issue I am discovering for my book on contentment, too.
I fully understand that young people, or people young in the faith, have yet to learn these things and grow. I pray that their path to maturity is level and unstrewn with hazards. Then again, getting around the hazards is all part of the process! If you want to grow, deal with them!
Those with more years to their lives, physical and/or spiritual, really should be more mature. Some are so stuck in their ways, it might be a miracle for them to grow up now!
Praise God, I believe in miracles!
Grace be with you.
5 thoughts on “Maturity in the church”
Our man on the inside!!! Love ya, mean it!
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I have no issue with what you have said. You’re right in that churches were supposed to be our “Noah’s arks” in these bad times. My problem arises out of not enough good leaders in most of our churches. Spats will happen. I get it. What I expect, though, is that churches stop catering to the brand new converts and start teaching some “steak dinners” instead of always just sticking to the milk of salvation. I WANT to find the leader who can show me what it looks like to give until he has nothing else to give. I want to see the leader that admits his BIG sins without waiting to be caught. I need to be able to trust that my leader loves Jesus first, and everything else second.
I find a pettiness prevalent throughout church anymore, and God forbid anyone actually sign over a title of a BMW just to feed a widow or move to a two bedroom house after selling their ritzy proof of God’s love to clothe an orphan. I can say all of this because I do it in my own life. I desperately want to find someone laying up his treasures in heaven instead of lining his bank account with holy dollars.
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I fully concur with you that churches are for more than just ‘ticking off souls’ and keeping a head count. Spiritual meat is vital to keep believers in the pews and make them more productive in every area of their spirituality (including the ability to witness to unbelievers – more by action than doctrine IMHO!!).
I could point out all the faults in my own church, or the faults in my pastor. He’s not perfect, and anyone going to a church to find perfection in the pews OR the pulpit will be sorely disappointed, or worse, go into a state of denial that anything said from the pulpit could ever be questioned. I HAVE seen such devotion to a human leader; a great preacher I heard recently made the point that the role of the minister/pastor is to point the congregation (the bride of Christ) to their groom, Jesus; nothing more.
On the contrary, I actually have disagreed with my pastor on many things, probably more than the rest of the church combined. I don’t know if he thinks of me as just a little bit of a troublemaker since I’m so vocal, but that ain’t gonna change. Pastors do not need ‘yes men’ around them or they get too conceited. He IS a man with a heart, though, and a vision. It’s THAT that keeps me there. The previous church, which we split from 5 years ago, ended up becoming anathema to me when I realised I was just filling a pew. But I stayed there for a total of 25 years! Go figure.
Now I have purpose and drive, and a desire to follow this imperfect man since he seems to be ‘the man for the job’. At the end of the day, though, I am a follower of Jesus, not pastors, and that will guide me to my dying day, whichever church I find myself in. I’ll pray for you to find a good one. I can tell you now it won’t be perfect but anything would be better than sitting under that narcissistic control-freak you’ve outlined to us!
I just purchased a new book on kindle for my phone (only £2!) by a fellow blogger I discovered recently. His blog is on Patheos, called ‘formerly fundie’ and his book came out just yesterday. I’ve read 20% already so it mustn’t be that big, but so far it’s very good. About letting go of our cultural baggage and getting back to the message of Jesus, it’s concerned chiefly with American culture but it IS relevant to me too: ‘Undiluted’ by Benjamin Corey. I recommend it!
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